One of my favorite topics. I get nearly giddy just thinking about Linkedin.
Today, I want to pontificate on how to actually approach relative (and complete) strangers through Linkedin. And I recommend you use those Groups you've now signed up for (you have, right? right?) as the launch pad for these networking conversations.
So you go into your Groups. You there now? Good.
Let's say you dream of working for Best Corporation USA. Because don't we all want to work for the best?
You'll want to then go conduct a search within one (or several) of your Groups; find a few contacts with work experience with Best Corporation USA. These are the cats you're going to approach.
Because they might have some information or even, gasp, an "in" for you. So go after them.
But before you zip off in an email spam frenzy...Halt!
KEY POINT AHEAD:
"Networking" does not mean assaulting every Tom, Dick and Harry working for Best Corporation USA with a full-on, impersonal "Can you give me a job? Do you have a job for me? Huh? Huh? Huh?" email blast.
That is not called networking. That is called being a complete pest.
The art of Linkedin networking? Get ready for it:
Be polite, thoughtful and interesting in your approach. That's it. Enter that person's world in a way that makes them want to talk to and/or help you.
Heyyyyy, check it out. This sounds an awful lot like in-person networking, doesn't it?
And that is the critical point.
Because email is easy to zing off, and by it's very nature can be a rather impersonal, anonymous way to communicate, we run the risk of being lazy in this exercise. Just like when we zap 72 resumes off to blind mailboxes and call it a day.
Doesn't work. It might make you feeeel like you've been productive in your search, but it won't net you the contacts nor the results that you're aiming for.
Take time to initiate an actual conversation.
Approach with a compliment or a thoughtful question. (Not with a "Hey buddy! You work at Best Corporation. I need a flipping job!") Be specific on why you've chosen to seek out that person's counsel ("I saw your comment on medical device manufacturing within the Discussions in our shared group." I'm very interested in learning more about this process, as well as Best Corporation as a potential employer. Can you help?")
You will be amazed at how much more effective this will be in both your short-term efforts, and the long-term contacts you shall make.